The father of Harold Acton was the art dealer Arthur Acton (1873-1953) and his mother was Hortense Mitchell (1871-1962), who came from a wealthy banking family in Chicago. After his schooling in Florence, Reading in southern England and Geneva in Switzerland to private schools Acton studied from May 1918 On Eton College in England. Among his former fellow students included Eric Blair (the author George Orwell), Cyril Connolly, Robert Byron, Alec Douglas -Home, Ian Fleming, Brian Howard, Oliver Messel, Anthony Powell, Henry Yorke ( the novelist Henry Green ). In October 1923 Acton joined the University of Oxford. He was co-founder in 1923 of the magazine The Oxford Broom and wrote his first poem aquarium.
After studying end Acton went to China, where he taught as a teacher. At the beginning of the Second World War Acton returned to England and worked for the British Royal Air Force. After the Second World War, he returned to Italy, where he spent many years in the family-owned Tuscan Villa La Pietra in Florence. As a writer, Acton wrote over the years many works, including The Last Medici, Memoirs of an Aesthete and The Bourbons of Naples.
The significant other of Acton was the German photographer Alexander Zielcke who is best known for his photographs of Tuscan villas as a photographer. As Acton died in 1994, he left the Tuscan Villa La Pietra, where he spent many years of his life, from New York University. Acton was buried in the cemetery Cimitero degli Allori Evangelico in Florence.
It is disputed whether Harold Acton the fictional character Anthony Blanche in the novel corresponds to re Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh in 1945.
- Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE ), 1974